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Fayette County, Iowa
Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910
Author: G. Blessin
B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana
Vol. I, Biographical Sketches
HON. SAMUEL BENJAMIN ZEIGLER
The subject of this article was a veteran figure in the group of distinguished men in Fayette county. He was the pioneer banker of the county; the projector of many of the admirable institutions and systems of our county and municipal life; a leader by force of intuitive merit; a scholar and a philosopher. He came to this county as a young lawyer, poor and without friends or influence.
For a number of years in early pioneer days, he traveled to the courts in adjoining counties on horseback, and it is said that occasionally he made these journeys on foot. But he was ever the same genial, companionable gentleman, and he soon drew around him a horde of admiring friends, while his ability to speak the German language made him a favorite with the incoming pioneers from the Fatherland. He remained the same indefatigable worker throughout all the years of phenomenal success, that he was when he opened his modest little law office in West Union, in 1856.
As success crowned his efforts, a large part of his cash accumulations was invested in real estate, mainly in the Northwest. He owned or controlled vast areas of improved unimproved lands in Iowa, the Dakotas, and Montana. But his principal financial development during the last forty years was due to mortgage loaning and banking. He opened the first banking institution in Fayette county in April, 1866. About this time and for several years subsequently, he was interested in various banking projects in this and adjoining counties. In July, 1872, Mr. Zeigler was one of the organizers of the Fayette County National Bank, and was elected vice-president, serving in that capacity until the retirement of Hon. Joseph Hobson in 1887, when Mr. Zeigler succeeded to the presidency. This position he held until his death, April 19, 1909. S. B. Zeigler was also one of the organizers of the Fayette County Savings Bank, in August, 1875, and president of the same for many years. Of the local industries, he was interested in the organization of the Union Creamery Company, in West Union, and the Elgin Canning Company, the latter a large and flourishing institution.
Mr. Zeigler was a public-spirited citizen, always active and zealous in the promotion of any enterprise which would redound to the credit of West Union and Fayette county. Few were more liberal to the poor and distressed, and his name was usually found near the head of every public subscription list. He was a zealous Mason, having attained high rank in the time-honored fraternity. At the time of his death he was a member of the board of regents of the Upper Iowa University, a position to which he succeeded on the death of the late Doctor Fuller, on December 8, 1900. Doctor Fuller being president, Mr. Zeigler was elected to fill the vacancy, and served some two years as such, resigning because of enfeebled health. S. B. Zeigler was a shrewd and far-seeing business man, ever alert and active in the promotion of his own interest, but equally zealous in the protection of other’s interests entrusted to his guardianship.
In 1877 he formed a business partnership with the late Ira M. Weed, in law, banking, and real estate transactions, which was continued with mutual profit and satisfaction until the death of Mr. Weed, after a business relation covering a period of about thirty years.
Mr. Zeigler was not a politician in the sense of seeking official preferment, thought he was a very active and zealous advocate of Republican principles, and was ever ready to assist his friends and the cause, being a strong and forceful campaign speaker. He served several years as mayor of West Union (1867 to 1871), but otherwise never aspired to local office. S. B. Zeigler was born in Rebersburg, Center county, Pennsylvania, on the 6th of August, 1831. He was a son of Isaac Zeigler, and his antecedents were of German extraction. He acquired a thorough and practical education in his native state, which was supplemented by a life-time of extensive reading and self culture. This broadening of an already superior mind, coupled with extensive travel and observation, rendered him one of Iowa’s best informed men. He came west in 1854, locating in Dubuque, Iowa, and there studied law for two years. June, 1856, witnessed his arrival in West Union. Here he was admitted to the bar and formed a law partnership with the late Judge Milo McGlathery, which continued until the elevation of his partner to the circuit judgeship. The details of his later career are brought out in the preceding lines.
Mr. Zeigler married Laura W. Adams, daughter of Samuel L. and Harriet (Cobleigh) Adams, of Montpelier, Vermont. Mrs. Zeigler is a lady of rare accomplishment, and is especially talented as a vocalist, having been under the training of Old World masters of voice culture for years. The domestic life of Mr. and Mrs. Zeigler was an extremely happy one. Their home was ideal in all its appointments, and all the comforts that wealth and culture could suggest were theirs for the asking.
Mr. Zeigler passed to his final reward on the 19th of April,--that day memorable in our National history,--1909. The funeral obsequies were unostentatious, but extremely impressive. After an able sermon, delivered by Rev. F. M. Dowlin, of Bethel Presbyterian church, the ritualistic service of the Knights Templar completed the ceremony.
~ transcribed for the Fayette County Iowa USGenWeb Project by Mary Aldrich
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